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Professional Guide | How to Backup a Windows 7 Computer to an External Hard Drive?

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 24, 2024 • Filed to: Take Data Backup • Proven solutions

Sarah: A few days ago, my PC went blue suddenly. I was so panic because I didn't know how to repair it. And I didn't even have a backup copy, which makes the situation tougher.
How can I save my computer and constantly back up my Windows 7 system? As it is known, backup needs to be done regularly for updating data. It is really a time-consuming job through a manually copy-and-paste operation.

Have you met the same situation as Sarah did? According to the latest data, nearly 80% of computer users have experienced a blue screen or black screen. Some users are knowledgeable and they can solve the problem themself, while others may give up all the files and relaunch a new system. In this case, all your important documents, videos, photos are gone. You feel regretful and swear to back up your system next time.

However, you have no idea of system backup and program backup. Questions come as followed:

  1. How can I make a quick and lazy backup?
  2. Should I copy and paste the system and programs to another hard drive?
  3. Is there any tool that can help?
  4. It is hard to fulfill a regular backup. What can help?

Don't be anxious about the questions. You can get your satisfying answers in the article. The article is going to illustrate the importance of a system backup and two relatively great methods for backing up Windows 7. Read forward to conclude which method you prefer.

Why Windows 7 Backup Is Important & What Backup Mthods is Suitable for You?

Before talking about the actual solutions, let’s first discuss why Windows 7 backup is important and why you should never overlook it.

  • Help retrieve lost data when an unexpected error happens such as blue screen, black screen, and the like.
  • Enable to restore OS and programs.
  • Free up space from the PC hard drive, thus improve computer performance.

To sum up, the above reasons are why Windows 7 backup is important for you. Obviously, there are lots of ways to backup a Windows computer, and here, I would like to make a comparison between the most popular backup methods for your reference: disk backup and cloud backup.

Both external hard drive backup and cloud backup can be accessed anywhere and anytime. But the access requirements are different. External hard drive backup does not require a network path to access the files, while cloud backup needs a fluent internet connection. You needn't worry about the uploading and downloading speed if using an external hard drive for backup, but an external hard drive is not that convenient since you need to carry it all the time for access.

Though nowadays, the external hard drive has become more and more portable. Compared with cloud storage, it seems not that convenient. And it is advised you store data not frequently used on the external hard drive and put those frequent-use files on the cloud.

External hard drive backup is faced with physical damage, logical-error damage, virus attack, loss, etc. While using Cloud backup, like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, you successfully avoid physical damage, but you confront hacker attacks, who are professional in stealing secrets.

The external hard drive is safer because you are protected from network hackers. you have advised to backup your confidential information on an external hard drive, such as Seagate, WD, Lacia, etc.

The cost calculation for external hard drives and cloud storage is different. Cloud storage allows you certain free storage. When your storage volume is over the free amount, it asks you for a subscription charge. comparatively, you make a one-deal payment on a hard drive.

From a long-term perspective, the cost per storage unit for an external hard drive will be cheaper.

Now you must know the differences between external hard drive backup and cloud backup. Choose whichever you like!

The article emphasizes disk backup, you can scroll to read the methods to backup Windows 7 to an external hard drive.

But if you prefer to back up your Windows to the cloud, click the link to access instructions.

Using "Backup and Restore" to Backup Your Window 7 Computer

Windows 7 comes with a built-in "Backup & Restore" feature that will help you back up the entire drive instead of selective files and folders.

Here’s how to back up a computer to an external hard drive on Windows 7 using "Backup & Restore".

Step 1 Press "Window+R" to launch the "Run" window and type "Control Panel" in the search bar. Press "Enter" to go to the Control Panel window.

Step 2 Tap on "System & Maintenance" in the left sidebar and select the "Backup & Restore" option.

go for backup restore option

Step 3 Click "Set Up Backup" and choose the external hard drive as the location where you want to save the backup.

set up your backup

Step 4 Now, you’ll be asked to choose which files you want to backup. You can either click "Let Windows Choose" allow Windows to automatically choose the files or select the "Let Me Choose" option to manually select them.

Keep in mind that the former option won’t include any files that are formatted with the "FAT file system".

choose the backup location

Step 5 If you tap on the "Let Me Choose" option, you’ll be prompted to a new dialog box where you can check drives that you want to include in the backup. Once you’ve selected the right drives/folders, simply click the "Next" button in the bottom-right corner.

choose specific files backup

Step 6 In the next screen, preview the backup and once you're ready, click the "Save Settings and Run Backup" option.

run your backup

Step 7 This will initiate the backup process, which will take a few minutes to complete. The time will mainly depend on the overall size of the backup.

backup in process

Step 8 Once the backup process completes, you’ll see the backup file in your external hard drive.

check the backup logo

You must have finished the backup process and find out that you cannot transfer the external windows system to an external hard drive, because you are not able to choose the entire hard disk as the object. Only folders and files are allowed. Hence, the whole process will be a little bit time-consuming.

To remove the limitations, I would like to recommend a useful and convenient tool (for your reference).

Using AOMEI Backupper to Back up Windows 7 to an External Hard Drive

AOMEI Backupper is one of the most professional backup service providers. It provides different editions that are tailored to meet different user requirements. And I will go on to illustrate AOMEI Backupper key features, from which you can get your benefits.

data backup
  • Backup and clone your Windows system, files, disks, and partitions without restrictions.
  • Set up an automatic backup or schedule backup to relieve you from backup pressure.
  • Restore files, disks, partitions, and system at a specific time point.
  • Works with all Windows versions including Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and even the latest Windows 10
  • Incrementally back up and save the newest version to free you from storage worry.

Download and launch Backupper software to your desktop, and now, follow the step-by-step procedure to back up Windows 7.

Note! AOMEI Backupper is an application compatible with both Windows 7 and Windows 10 system. And the backup process is the same in the two systems.

Step 1 Switch to the "Backup" tab and click the "System Backup" option.

choose system backup

Step 2 Click "Add" to choose the destination hard drive where you store your backup Windows system.

select a location

Step 3 Press the "Start Backup" button to initiate the backup process.

start to back up windows computer

Step 4 Once the process is finished, you can see "the operation has been completed successfully".

windows 7 backup is finished

So, that’s how to back up a computer to an external hard drive on Windows 7 using AOMEI Backupper. It will take minutes or hours, it depends on how big your system is.

Note! During the backup process, you are able to make your computer shut down, restart, hibernate, or sleep after completion through settings.

Backup and Restore vs. AOMEI Backupper (Comparison: Windows 7 Built-in Backup Function vs AOMEI Backupper)

Now that you know the two methods to backup data from a PC to an external hard drive, it’s time to choose the one that suits your needs. But since the majority of you might be backing up data for the first time, it may get a bit challenging to pick the right solution. To make your job easier, we’ve compiled a comparison table that contains the key features of both Windows official "Backup & Restore" and AOMEI Backupper.

Features Backup & Restore AOMEI Backupper
Compatible OS Windows 7 All Windows system
Files backup Yes Yes
Hard drive backup No Yes
System Backup No Yes
Incremental Backup No Yes
Differential Backup No Yes
Automatic/Regular Backup No Yes
Clone No Yes

From the above table, it’s clear that AOMEI Backupper is a better option than the traditional "Backup & Restore" feature due to its extensive functionality. With AOMEI Backupper, you’ll have full control over which files you want to include in the backup, making the entire process less complicated.


A Windows 7 backup will help you a lot in retrieving files after your system has encountered an unexpected crash and lost important data. If you want to keep your data safe as well, simply follow the above-mentioned tricks and back up your files to an external hard drive. It doesn’t matter if you have a Seagate, Western Digital, Lacie, or Dell external hard drive, these tricks will help you get the job done in no time.

Recoverit author

Amy Dennis

staff Editor

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